In this ethnographic note, I will describe the journey to the grave of the first President of the Republic of Indonesia, namely Sukarno. When I was invited to be a resource person at IAIN Tulungagung, East Java, I had the opportunity to visit Bung Karno’s grave on the way to Malang City. The tomb is located in Blitar.
This pilgrimage was initially unplanned because it was my first time in Tulungagung City. Nevertheless, the campus driver told us various things on our journey. He told his experience in Kalimantan about the conflict between the Dayak and Madura tribes. The story is about being a driver in an event in Kalimantan. This story seems to make the distance between the city of Tulungagung and Malang so close. However, the road is narrow, jammed in several places.
When I told him that I had a habit of visiting graves, he immediately offered to stop us from visiting Bung Karno’s grave. I immediately accepted this offer. For me, visiting the graves is a spiritual journey. There will be felt how the strength of a person’s character. On various research trips, visiting the tomb is a must.
On the island of Java, the tombs of the ulama are the most visited places. When I went to Surabaya, I took the time to make a pilgrimage to the tomb of Sunan Kudus. However, it did not make it into the location because local visitors crowded the visitors.
When I went to Melaka, I visited the tomb of Sheikh Syamsuddin As-Sumatrani and the graves of the Acehnese martyrs against the Portuguese.
While on Pulau Pinang, I took the time to visit the grave of Syed Hussein al-Aidid, one of the Acehnese who built the town of Pulau Pinang together with Francis Light. Do not forget to visit the grave of P. Ramlee, a film director in Malaysia who is of Acehnese blood.
So, my arrival at Bung Karno’s grave was a coincidence for which I should be grateful. Visitors were not so crowded because it was late afternoon. As an Acehnese, visiting Bung Karno’s tomb will expose my historical memories. Aceh’s relationship with the Republic of Indonesia. Bung Karno’s dialogue with Abu Beureueh. His visit to Banda Aceh for various missions, from Aceh peace with Indonesia to education issues.
All eyes were on visitors to the tomb of the Proclaimer of the Republic of Indonesia. Location of the tomb nuanced Javanese culture. The tomb area is very spacious and neatly arranged. I tried to get closer, even though it was a bit difficult. Visitors face various faces. I suspect that every ethnic group in Indonesia must have visited Bung Karno’s grave before. I have read Bung Karno’s biography as well as films about him.
However, I could not put it into words when I arrived at Bung Karno’s grave. The reason as a socio-anthropological researcher was revived. The figure of Bung Karno is very legendary on the national and international stage. Although the end of his life was filled with thistles, I suspect that the beginning of his life was also many thorns that Bung Karno stepped on. The storms that always hit made Bung Karno never be swallowed by any storm. Such is the story of a great leader.
When I was right in front of Bung Karno’s tomb, I felt that he was sleeping in his wake. His thoughts still spread to the people of Indonesia. The concepts of Bung Karno’s reflections are still neatly stored in various works of literature. Bung Karno’s thoughts are still being studied, which is what I mean Bung Karno sleeps in the wake. His thoughts guard every frontier of Indonesian thought. His ideas become a filter for national values.
In short, this visit seemed to invite me to enter Bung Karno’s mind. He is a genuine nationalist. A Javanese. A Muslim. His life story has inspired this nation a lot. Therefore, finding a replacement for Bung Karno is very difficult in the current context. Although many wanted to emulate Bung Karno, these efforts were only successful in a few areas of the lessons of Bung Karno’s life that can be learned.
I attempted to sit beside the tomb when I was allowed to approach. Pray and hope that Bung Karno will continue to protect this republic. Prayer up. However, I was shocked because I had very little time. After that, I went again to Malang. Because the next day, I have to catch a flight to Jakarta.
Of all the tombs I have visited, Bung Karno’s grave is the one that I remember the most. Many pieces of literature narrate Bung Karno’s leadership style. On the way, I reflected that it is not easy to be a leader in the Republic of Indonesia. Bung Karno, in leading, in my opinion, used not only reason but also his sharp inner strength.